Huawei kit no longer allowed to be added to UK 5G network from September – CNET

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Huawei has a long history of working in the UK, but that chapter could be closing.

Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The UK government has laid out a roadmap for removing all telecoms equipment made by "high risk" vendors, including Huawei, from the country's 5G network by its deadline of 2027. As part of its plans to protect the country's telecoms infrastructure, UK carriers will no longer be able to install Huawei kit beginning September 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said on Monday.

In July, the government announced it was banning Huawei equipment from the UK's 5G network, with a deadline of 2027 for removing the kit. The decision is a reversal of an announcement made in January, in which the country said Huawei would have its market share capped at 35% and its equipment wouldn't be allowed in core parts of the network.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under increased pressure from the US over the past year to follow in its footsteps by banning Huawei outright. But it took the introduction of new US trade sanctions in May that prevented the company from using US technology in its own products for the UK to finally issue a ban of its own. 

UK carriers will now need to begin the removal of Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, most of which were launched in 2019. Representatives for Huawei declined to comment on the issue. The company has continued to reiterate that it poses no security threat.

"Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks," Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement. "This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security."

Alongside the removal of Huawei equipment, the UK is also launching a new 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, which will establish paths to bring new vendors into the market. Ensuring the network has kit made by a broad number of different companies will boost security and also means the country is not just reliant on one or two established players.

To kick off the strategy, the government will invest an initial £250 million ($332 million) in innovation projects, including the establishment of a secure research facility, the National Telecoms Lab. In his statement, Dowden said he hoped the diversification strategy will "make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks."

Members of the telecoms industry, including Vodafone CTO Scott Petty and Hamish MacLeod, director of the trade association for British carriers Mobile UK, welcomed the launch of the strategy.

"This will nurture UK talent, foster innovation and competition and deliver more jobs and investment across the economy,"  MacLeod said  in a statement.

"This strategy and financial commitment from the government is good for the industry, and for smaller UK technology firms that will only grow with the right support," Petty added.

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Taylor Swift on Disney Plus: Folklore and firelight got me all up in my feelings – CNET

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Taylor Swift's intimate pandemic album gets an intimate pandemic film.

Disney Plus

Somewhere in upstate New York, a fire flickers while Taylor Swift and a handful of musical friends toast the album that unexpectedly brought them together with glasses of wine.

Finding herself at a loose end while in lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak and free from industry expectations that steer her usual music-making process, Swift conceived, wrote and recorded an album in less than two months that has been referred to as the "first great pandemic art."

The arrival of Folklore in July was a surprise to everyone -- and a very welcome one to Swift superfans like myself. Like so many of us constrained to virtual communication methods, she wrote the album by collaborating with the National's Aaron Dessner over text and email, and recorded her vocals with co-writer and producer Jack Antonoff from a makeshift booth in a bedroom of her LA mansion where she was isolating.

We see a snapshot of the booth, complete with cats, for the first time in Folklore: The Long Pond Sessions, a film directed by Swift and out on Disney Plus today. The film is as much a fireside chat about the process of creating the album as a performance of it and places it firmly as a product of pandemic-stricken times, as well as for me personally, an antidote to it.

Writing and recording with Swift in her LA bedroom and Dessner in his home studio seems to have fostered ideal working conditions between the pair, who found common ground despite their physical distance. Although in the film they come across in the film as two contrasting characters -- Swift talkative and extroverted, Dessner quiet and introverted -- what they clearly share is deep introspection and intuition when it comes to making music.

But most of the action takes place at the eponymous New York studios where Swift, Antonoff and Dessner finally gather in a wood-panelled room with festoon lights blinking through the windows to perform the whole album together for the first time. You get the sense this is a much dreamed-of moment for the trio -- Swift says it will take performing Folklore to "realize that it's a real album." She adds: "it seems like a big mirage."

Sitting around the fire with her co-writer and producer, she reveals she only told her label about the album a week before it was released. Best known for her pop hits including Shake It Off and Blank Space, Swift is two years into a multi-year record deal with Republic Records who will no doubt expect the star to produce hits and fill stadiums. Folklore, which is technically her first alternative album, boasts 17 tracks with no potential earworm-y pop radio hit among them. "I thought I was going to have to stand up with shaking hands," she says in the film. "Like, I promise I know what I'm doing, I know there's not a big single and I'm not doing a big pop thing."

Swift needn't have worried -- it turned out Republic was fine with her unforeseen productivity, and they were right to trust her. Folklore's first week sales alone immediately made it the best-selling album of 2020, and it spent eight consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. For an album no-one saw coming, with no promo to lay the groundwork, it's commercial performance couldn't have been better -- and was matched by its critical reception. 

Many, including Rolling Stone's chief Swift correspondent Rob Sheffield, believe Folklore to be the best album of Swift's career, (during which she has already won the prestigious Grammy for album of the year twice). The response to this low-key and supposedly uncommercial record makes me wonder what other great music is never made because of record label lust for radio hits and sell-out stadium tours.

At the same time, the pandemic has been an essential ingredient in the Folklore recipe, meaning that in spite of its success, replicating it would not necessarily be either possible or desirable. 2020 feels like a standalone moment in time -- disconnected certainly from what came before it, and hopefully from what comes after it. Describing the "frontier mentality" it took to make the record, Antonoff says, "I don't know if it's how albums are supposed to be made. It just worked right now."

"The pandemic and lockdown runs through this album like a thread because it's an album that allows you to feel your feelings and is a product of isolation," says Swift. It's proven for many listeners to be an antidote to that isolation too. Discussing the positive response, she says: "It turned out that everyone needed a good cry, as well as us."

While isolated in our homes, many of us have found ourselves clinging to music, TV and culture as an emotional crutch, a tool with which to self-soothe. This was true for me even before Folklore came along. But ever since the album was released, it's been holding my hand through it all.

Can't get out of bed in the morning? I listen to Folklore. Can't get to sleep at night? I listen to Folklore. It has bookended many of my days and been my constant companion in between. At a time when everyone is struggling and I'm wary of further burdening my loved ones, some of whom are doctors working through the pandemic, it's held space for me to feel the full spectrum of my emotions without fear.

But Swift has also done me a huge favor by transporting me out of my daily reality through her stories. Even as my world shrunk geographically, I let the lyrics meander through my mind and carry me to half-imagined places.

Epiphany sent me chasing down stories of my own grandfather who died a year before I was born, but just over 100 years ago beat the spanish flu as a WW1 cavalry soldier in Italy by isolating himself in a tent for three days with his rum ration. The tracks Betty, August and Cardigan tapped into my memories of teen romance and urged me to resume writing fiction -- something I've otherwise had little spare energy for this year.

As Swift's stories echoed in my imagination, so they merged with my own and gave me new and welcome lines of escape from reality. "The overarching theme of the whole album of wanting to escape, having something you want to protect, trying to protect your own sanity," she says while discussing final album track The Lakes.

In the film she talks about how, while in the midst of her own lockdown cultural odyssey, she felt the courage to step outside her own experience for the first time while laying down lyrics and move beyond her reality into history and stories. 

"It's not about the pandemic, it's about the experience of what happens to an artist as they live through a pandemic," Antonoff says to Swift as they sit sprawled in lawn chairs in the morning light. "You start to dream."

But while this is the least autobiographical album she's written yet, the lyrics that do pertain to her hit as hard as they ever did and are visible in her performances. While performing My Tears Ricochet, for example, her brow creases and her lip curls as she vacillates wildly between looking like she's really going through it and like she's about to commit a murder. It's the kind of energy you only get to witness during a concert performance, and with this film Disney has given Swift fans something we're unlikely to get in person for a long time to come. 

It's a hard time for all live music fans right now, and Swifties are no different. My own plans for summer 2020 involved a European tour of Swift shows with a friend from another continent, punctuated by days drinking wine in the Mediterranean sunshine. Instead, my only concert experience of the year is watching at home on my TV.

In a conversation with Antonoff ahead of performing Mirrorball, Swift discusses how she wrote the track just after learning all her shows were cancelled. It's one of the only times the lyrics directly address the time we're living through. In the lines "they called off the circus, burned the disco down," she examines the nature of celebrity through the lens of a star who suddenly finds themselves, lights off, alone in a room.

And while elsewhere, celebrity culture was undoubtedly burning, Swift was doing what she does best, hunkering down and quietly writing her way through the darkness. She's done similar before with her 2017 album Reputation, but whereas the impact of that particular record really hinged on a massive stadium tour, Folklore feels like an entirely intimate experience from creation to consumption.

Unlike almost everything else Swift has created, this album has been produced to listen to alone and in private. Even in virtual concert form, this is almost as far from the shared experience her stadium-packed stage shows deliver as it's possible to imagine. 

There's still an appetite for its performance though, and as the camera cuts between close-up shots of Swift, Dessner and Antonoff, I can't help but think she's never sounded better. It's muted and lo-fi compared to what we're used to, but all the richness of the storytelling is still present through campfire pow-wows replete with red wine.

Folklore the film, just like Folklore the album, feels like a safe space in which to be vulnerable. There are no fireworks and dramatic curtain calls to close it out, just Swift saying: "well that ought to do -- whiskey?" like an invitation to get cozy, bask in our feelings and lick our wounds until the time comes to go out and face the world again.

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How an ordinary 16-year-old came to dominate TikTok – CNET

Superstar influencer and teen sensation Charli D'Amelio became the first person to gain 100 million followers on TikTok on Sunday, just over a year and a half after joining the platform. The 16-year-old hit the milestone figure ahead of the world's biggest celebrities and the YouTubers, Instagrammers, Musical.ly and Vine stars who preceded her.

"100 million people supporting me," D'Amelio tweeted. "I truly cannot believe that this is real."

Primarily popular with Generation Z (over 60% of its US users are in their teens and twenties), TikTok has increasingly found itself in the spotlight this year due to scrutiny over its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. There've been moments when it's felt as though the social media platform's future, particularly in the US, where it's attracted the ire of President Donald Trump, is on shaky ground. But through it all, TikTok's biggest stars have been thriving, and D'Amelio is their undisputed queen.

While this year has been rough for most, D'Amelio has had an extraordinary 2020 by anyone's standards -- never mind a teenage schoolgirl who little over a year ago was just filming dance videos in her bedroom. Not only has her profile on the app grown exponentially from just 1 million followers a year ago, but her career outside of TikTok has also exploded.

Among her accolades, this year D'Amelio made her feature film debut; launched nail polish, makeup and fashion collaborations with major brands; appeared in a Super Bowl commercial; had a Dunkin' Donuts drink named after her and appeared in a music video with her hero, J-Lo. Her first book, Essentially Charli: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping It Real, comes out next month. A Forbes report published in August suggested D'Amelio had earned $4 million in the past year from her various deals.

D'Amelio hasn't just carved out a new and unexpected career for herself, but for her whole family. Big sister Dixie is embarking on a music career, her mom and dad have followings of their own, and they all post content on their family and individual YouTube channels, as well as being signed to United Talent. 

But as nice as they all seem, Charli is most definitely the star. Without her TikTok fame hauling them out of obscurity, there's little doubt they'd all still be living the quiet life in their home state of Connecticut.

If you're unfamiliar with her content, you might be wondering what it is D'Amelio does that warrants such adulation and popularity. The answer is hard to put a finger on -- even for those who've been watching closely, and even for D'Amelio herself.

Charli D'Ameli-who?

Back in August, I got a notification that Charli D'Amelio had gone live on Instagram. I joined the stream to see D'Amelio, shrouded in a purple-pink filter and engrossed in playing with a Lego Friends model she'd made earlier that day. She was narrating the Live in her soft, low voice. "Look! Friends, besties," she said holding a couple of figures up to her phone camera.

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Charli D'Amelio on the Tonight Show in March 2020.

Andrew Lipovsky/Getty Images

"What on Earth are you watching?" said my partner.

"I'm just trying to figure something out," I replied. "For work."

I'd heard of D'Amelio's meteoric rise to fame long before I knew anything about her or her content, and I'd tapped "follow" mainly out of curiosity. For most of this year, her TikTok bio has read: "Don't worry, I don't get the hype either." But I was determined to get the hype.

From what I could see initially, D'Amelio was a humble, pretty, silly, sensitive, deeply normal teen girl whose oeuvre (largely consisting of dancing, pulling faces and drinking iced coffee) was uncontrived and unpolished. She seemed at the same time to be mature and young for her age -- mixing confidently with her older peers and throwing her energy into eyebrow-raising TikTok dances, but also happily messing about with Lego and openly embracing the "kid" side of being 16. 

It was clear she tapped into the authenticity that TikTok users crave. "It is precisely her ordinariness that is the key to her success," says Zoe Glatt, a digital anthropologist and critical intersectional feminist researcher at London School of Economics. "With her pretty girl-next-door vibe, she exemplifies the ideal package for a TikToker: Relatable, authentic, normatively attractive, youthful, fun, unthreatening and uncontroversial."

The qualities of authenticity and relatability that audiences seek in influencers are often elusive, says Brooke Erin Duffy, an associate professor at Cornell University who studies media, technology and culture. "However, we shouldn't overlook the roles of both luck and privilege in the production of celebrity," she says.

As white, upper-middle-class Americans, Charli and the D'Amelio family, who found fortune totally unexpectedly, fit the bill on both counts. 

Earlier this year, D'Amelio was falsely credited with creating the "Renegade" dance, which was actually the work of Black teenager Jalaiah Harmon from Atlanta, Georgia -- not something she had claimed, but that was widely assumed due to her viral version of the dance. "This story tells us something about the culture of TikTok, where white creators commonly appropriate aspects of Black culture," says Glatt. The episode led to D'Amelio and others more frequently adding dance credits in their TikTok captions to ensure the creator was being recognized.

The longer I followed D'Amelio, the more I became convinced that in spite of her supposed normalcy, she does have a certain something that sets her apart and inspires affection. Duffy believes it's tied to the way she both conforms to and challenges ideas of femininity. "She enjoys traditionally feminized activities (shopping, cosmetics) but defies conventional codes of performativity," Duffy says.

It also helps that she grew up competing in dance competitions, points out Glatt. "TikTok, with its short-form videos based on the repurposing of sounds, is the perfect platform for dance trends to emerge: quick, fun and catchy routines performed to popular songs that other users can recreate," she says.

In truth, it's hard not to become fond of D'Amelio, who seems like a sweet, fun and unproblematic young woman. Even when she's chased around LA by camera-wielding men three times her age who shout invasive questions about her romantic life, she's polite and smiley and speaks kindly when confronted with shady things people have said about her.

Something about her personality and the timing of her journey has clicked both with the TikTok algorithm and audience, and whatever alchemy has occurred won't easily be replicable for anyone trying to mimic it. It also makes her an appealing partner to brands, which is why so many lucrative partnerships have been offered to her, says Glatt. 

But although her rise to fame looks like the social media fairytale come true -- an average teenager making videos in her room, catapulted into the limelight, becoming the most famous internet influencer on the planet within a year -- it isn't all brand deals and sunshine.

TikTok stardom is rife with pitfalls and opportunities for cancellation. Rarely does a day go by without a scandal, which can range from the trivial (a relationship drama, an ego-driven beef) to the genuinely serious (racism, older influencers grooming fans who are minors). D'Amelio has been largely immune to this -- any appearances on TikTok Room (an influential influencer news source on Instagram) are usually the result of someone having something mean to say about her.

What she isn't immune to is the jealousy and bullying that come with superstardom. The biggest threat to her right now is overexposure -- people are getting so tired of waiting for her to trip up that they're imposing impossibly high standards on her and then claiming she's fallen short.

An example of this is the reaction to a YouTube video published this week. In it, D'Amelio jokes with friend and fellow influencer James Charles about how it would be cool to reach 100 million followers on TikTok -- something that looking at her trajectory was always going to happen -- exactly a year after first hitting a million. She also asks if she can have Dino nuggets, in spite of being served a dinner prepared by a chef friend of the family.

Reactions to it have been disproportionately cruel. At the more benign end of the scale, D'Amelio has been labeled "entitled," "disrespectful" and "rude," but there's also been a massive influx of commenters goading her to kill herself -- an inexcusable thing to say to someone for any reason, never mind to a child for something so innocuous. According to Glatt, this incident "demonstrates the fragility of online fame, especially for young women who are held to impossibly high standards of behaviour as compared to their male counterparts."

The timing doesn't seem inconsequential. It's easier to gain followers on TikTok than on other social platforms, but being the first to reach the 100 million milestone is still a huge feat, and there are many people out there who believe she's not deserving of it.

In an Instagram Live, D'Amelio reacted in tears to the comments, saying: "I don't even know if I want to do this anymore. This is messed-up stuff that people are saying -- like people telling me to hang myself. People just blatantly disrespecting the fact that I'm still a human being is not OK at all."

But she also bounced back quickly, tweeting: "Tomorrow I will be back posting normal content with a smile on my face! At the end of the day I know I am a good person with a good heart and I will never change that about myself. I love you all!!"

Such resilience will serve her well if she's to survive in the ruthless world of internet fame. Social media stars come and go -- longevity is never guaranteed. But for now? There's absolutely no reason why D'Amelio shouldn't have her sights set on the next 100 million.

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The Crown’s Diana depiction has me revisiting my British childhood – CNET

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Princess Diana with her sons, William and Harry.

Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

When I started watching Netflix drama The Crown four seasons ago, it was all history, baby. Despite being British, I felt as personally detached from this high-production royal romp as most other viewers around the world probably do. But this latest season has come the closest yet to brushing up against my real life, and that's deepened my relationship with the show.

I'm a Brit born at the tail end of the '80s, so the events currently taking place in The Crown are starting to feel less like fiction and more like the beginnings of events that shaped my earliest memories of "the news." It's reached the point where the storylines playing out on screen are direct precursors to two events that dominated my childhood. 

Although largely a subplot, the Northern Ireland conflict and the Troubles loom large in the background of season 4 of The Crown. The show deals with the assassination of Lord Mountbatten and his family members by the Irish Republican Army, foreshadowing many more tragedies that resulted from the conflict. One struck very close to home for me.

In 1996, what previously had felt like a largely distant threat hit home when the IRA detonated a 1,500-kilogram lorry bomb in the center of Manchester, only streets away from my father's office. It was the biggest bomb attack on Britain since the Second World War.

Just over a year later, came the news one Sunday morning that Princess Diana, as we still called her, had been killed in a car crash in Paris. My mother, who had been listening to the radio while enjoying a leisurely bath, burst through the door in a towel to tell us the news.

Remembering where you were when you found out Princess Diana died is a shared experience for many Brits, but for me as a 9-year-old, it was a wakeup call to some of life's harsh realities. News happened, and I'm sure I was passively aware of it, but it seemed to me predictable and dull. Here was something that was neither, and I remember feeling shocked to my core. I knew very little about death, but I knew there was something wrong about someone so young suddenly being gone.

For those of us growing up in the '90s in the north of England, celebrities seemed to exist in an entirely different realm. Anyone famous was little more than an idea, a mirage on a magazine page, as unreal as the cartoon characters, children's show presenters and anyone else they shared my TV screen with. 

Diana was no different, and because she was gone before I'd grown into someone who could understand  that celebrities are just people with full lives of their own, she remained one-dimensional in my mind. Even as I watched on TV as her sons walked beside her coffin through the streets and imagined their grief for their mother, she was still a mystery to me.

Until now, I've felt like an important part of the puzzle in my understanding of these early memories has been missing. But watching Emma Corrin bring Diana to life in The Crown -- highlighting how young she was, how difficult it must have been living with an eating disorder while balancing motherhood and being a royal wife -- has helped flesh her out in my mind.

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I know that The Crown's depiction of Diana is at times fictional and flawed, and I'm not at risk of being hoodwinked into accepting the Netflix version of her as gospel. But it has allowed me to imagine her better in my mind, to flesh out my own understanding of her as a person with hopes, dreams and desires of her own.

I now see her not through the eyes of a shocked and sheltered child, but as one woman looking at another, and understanding that just like all the other women I know, she was complex and multifaceted and harbored a rich interior life beyond the face she presented to the world -- a private side to her that ultimately was never and will never be ours to claim.

With season 5 of The Crown in the works, I know another shift is bound to take place in terms of my relationship with the show. There are tragedies to come that I know will make me emotional when I watch, but I'm also intrigued to see how the history of my country that I played witness to as a child will look to me through the Netflix lens as a more world-wise adult.

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Amazon hit with EU antitrust charges and a new antitrust investigation – CNET

EU Competition Commissioner Margethe Vestager

Margethe Vestager announced charges against Amazon on Tuesday.

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Amazon is under fire in Europe. On Tuesday, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced formal antitrust charges against Amazon over how the tech giant uses data about merchants on its platform, as well as a brand new investigation into the retailer.

Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny from regulators both in the EU and US, part of a broader review of the power that Big Tech holds. The company is currently under scrutiny in New York for similar reasons.

In Europe, the Commission has been investigating Amazon's dual role as a platform for merchants and as a rival to those merchants for the past two years. Vestager announced that following the investigation, the Commission had found Amazon guilty of abusing its dominant position as the biggest online marketplace in France and Germany -- Europe's two biggest markets.

The Commission's investigation discovered that large quantities of data about third-party sellers were available to Amazon employees and flowing into the company's automated systems. Access to this data gives Amazon an unfair advantage, the Commission said, as it allows the company to operate without the normal risks involved in retail competition.

"We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition," said Vestager in a statement. "Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers."

As this is a preliminary decision from the Commission, Amazon will have a chance to respond before any fines are issued. Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The second investigation announced by Vestager will look into the possible preferential treatment of Amazon's own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon's logistics and delivery services. In particular, it will examine how sellers are selected to appear in the "Buy Box" on the right side of the page when you're browsing the website. Appearing in the Buy Box gives a significant advantage to sellers as their products are heavily promoted to Amazon Prime users.

Antitrust heats up around the world

This is far from the first time Amazon has come under fire from the EU Competition Commission. Back in 2017, Amazon agreed to change its ebook contracts with publishers after another lengthy investigation. Vestager also led that investigation, as well as a number of other successful investigations into US tech giants, including Apple and Google.

Vestager has a reputation for being fearsome and unflinching when facing down the world's wealthiest and most powerful companies, and has long asserted that she is determined to ensure companies are behaving legally and that European consumers are getting the best deal.

Europe has a long history of pursuing antitrust investigations into tech giants, but the US is increasingly following suit. The House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee also accused Amazon, along with Facebook, Apple and Google, of stifling competition and harming US consumers in an October report.

Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave testimony to the subcommittee, saying: "I believe Amazon should be scrutinized. We should scrutinize all large institutions, whether they're companies, government agencies or nonprofits. Our responsibility is to make sure we pass such scrutiny with flying colors."

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Amazon hit with EU antitrust charges and a new antitrust investigation – CNET

EU Competition Commissioner Margethe Vestager

Margethe Vestager announced charges against Amazon on Tuesday.

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Amazon is under fire in Europe. On Tuesday, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced formal antitrust charges against Amazon over how the tech giant uses data about merchants on its platform, as well as a brand new investigation into the retailer.

Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny from regulators both in the EU and US, part of a broader review of the power that Big Tech holds. The company is currently under scrutiny in New York for similar reasons.

In Europe, the Commission has been investigating Amazon's dual role as a platform for merchants and as a rival to those merchants for the past two years. Vestager announced that following the investigation, the Commission had found Amazon guilty of abusing its dominant position as the biggest online marketplace in France and Germany -- Europe's two biggest markets.

The Commission's investigation discovered that large quantities of data about third-party sellers were available to Amazon employees and flowing into the company's automated systems. Access to this data gives Amazon an unfair advantage, the Commission said, as it allows the company to operate without the normal risks involved in retail competition.

"We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition," said Vestager in a statement. "Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers."

As this is a preliminary decision from the Commission, Amazon will have a chance to respond before any fines are issued. Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The second investigation announced by Vestager will look into the possible preferential treatment of Amazon's own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon's logistics and delivery services. In particular, it will examine how sellers are selected to appear in the "Buy Box" on the right side of the page when you're browsing the website. Appearing in the Buy Box gives a significant advantage to sellers as their products are heavily promoted to Amazon Prime users.

Antitrust heats up around the world

This is far from the first time Amazon has come under fire from the EU Competition Commission. Back in 2017, Amazon agreed to change its ebook contracts with publishers after another lengthy investigation. Vestager also led that investigation, as well as a number of other successful investigations into US tech giants, including Apple and Google.

Vestager has a reputation for being fearsome and unflinching when facing down the world's wealthiest and most powerful companies, and has long asserted that she is determined to ensure companies are behaving legally and that European consumers are getting the best deal.

Europe has a long history of pursuing antitrust investigations into tech giants, but the US is increasingly following suit. The House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee also accused Amazon, along with Facebook, Apple and Google, of stifling competition and harming US consumers in an October report.

Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave testimony to the subcommittee, saying: "I believe Amazon should be scrutinized. We should scrutinize all large institutions, whether they're companies, government agencies or nonprofits. Our responsibility is to make sure we pass such scrutiny with flying colors."

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First COVID vaccine offers 90% protection, drug company claims – CNET

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COVID vaccines are being developed by companies all over the world.

Javier Zayas Photography/Getty
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Monday that the COVID-19 vaccine it's been developing is 90% effective in people who are not known to already have had the virus.

The company, together with partner BioNTech, has conducted human trials on 43,500 people in six countries, with no safety concerns raised. It said in a press release that it plans to apply for emergency approval from the FDA by the end of the month to use the vaccine.

Pfizer expects to the final data to meet safety milestones by the third week in November, when it will be able to apply for emergency use authorization. If approved, the vaccine would be given to people in two shots, 21 days apart.

"Today is a great day for science and humanity," said Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla in a statement. "We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen."

Finding a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is seen as the biggest hope for lifting the restrictions people around the world are living under. There are a number of efforts to find a viable vaccine underway in various countries, with discussions beginning to take place about how best to distribute a vaccine in order to protect society's most vulnerable people. Pfizer's solution will need to be kept extremely cold in order to work.

Based on current projections, Pfizer estimates it will be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

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Mobile networks in the UK banned from selling locked phones – CNET

Woman using a phone in London

UK phone owners will be able to switch networks more easily under new rules.

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Mobile networks in the UK have been banned from selling locked phones that can only be used with one carrier. British telecoms regulator Ofcom announced the new rule on Tuesday, although it isn't due to come into force until December 2021.

Several phone networks in the UK, including EE, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile, sell phones as part of contracts that cannot be used with a SIM card from another provider, meaning that owners can't switch to a rival network when their contract up is up if they want to continue using the same device. Some UK networks, including O2, Three, Virgin and Sky already sell unlocked handsets.

Phones can be unlocked from networks, usually for a small cost, but according to Ofcom research, this process often dissuades people from switching to another carrier. The watchdog said that almost half of people who do switch networks experience trouble doing so. Difficulties include long delays receiving codes, or loss of service if people switch networks without realizing their phone was locked.

"We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked," said Ofcom Connectivity Director Selina Chadha in a statement. "So we're banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort – and help them unlock better deals."

Ofcom's decision on locked handsets comes as part of a wider commitment by the UK to comply with the European Electronic Communications Code, in spite of its decision to leave the EU.

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Apple Store down ahead of iPhone 12 launch event – CNET

iphone-apple-event-october.png

Apple's iPhone event has been moved to October for 2020.

Apple
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

The Apple Store went offline on Tuesday, just hours before the company's iPhone 12 launch event was set to kick off. Usually held in September, the event has moved to October this year in order to accommodate delays to the new phone rollout caused by COVID-19. But the event should be worth the wait. We're expecting to see Apple launch its first ever 5G iPhone, as well as a new HomePod and more.

The disappearance of the Apple Store is nothing out of the ordinary. Apple usually pulls its online store down ahead of major events, especially if new products are set to be announced. After the event, the store will likely pop back up again, hopefully offering the option to preorder the company's latest devices.

This year those devices should include the iPhone 12, the next generation of Apple's iconic smartphone that for the very first should come with 5G wireless technology built in, as well as a new chip and a fresh look inspired by the iPad Pro. Other things we're hoping to see at this year's event include new headphones, a new HomePod and potentially an iPhone Mini. It's possible that Apple's long-rumored AirTag beacons might make an appearance.

Here at CNET, we'll be on top of all the big announcements that come out of today's iPhone 12 event, so keep your eyes on the site for all the Apple news, first impressions and analysis you could possibly wish for.

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Apple Store down ahead of iPhone 12 launch event – CNET

iphone-apple-event-october.png

Apple's iPhone event has been moved to October for 2020.

Apple
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

The Apple Store went offline on Tuesday, just hours before the company's iPhone 12 launch event was set to kick off. Usually held in September, the event has moved to October this year in order to accommodate delays to the new phone rollout caused by COVID-19. But the event should be worth the wait. We're expecting to see Apple launch its first ever 5G iPhone, as well as a new HomePod and more.

The disappearance of the Apple Store is nothing out of the ordinary. Apple usually pulls its online store down ahead of major events, especially if new products are set to be announced. After the event, the store will likely pop back up again, hopefully offering the option to preorder the company's latest devices.

This year those devices should include the iPhone 12, the next generation of Apple's iconic smartphone that for the very first should come with 5G wireless technology built in, as well as a new chip and a fresh look inspired by the iPad Pro. Other things we're hoping to see at this year's event include new headphones, a new HomePod and potentially an iPhone Mini. It's possible that Apple's long-rumored AirTag beacons might make an appearance.

Here at CNET, we'll be on top of all the big announcements that come out of today's iPhone 12 event, so keep your eyes on the site for all the Apple news, first impressions and analysis you could possibly wish for.

Now playing: Watch this: Every iPhone 12 feature we expect Apple to announce

8:34

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